This plants grows, uncommonly, in open grassland in South and East Scotland. It likes a limestone soil. It name, Saxifrage, means ‘rock-breaker’, which may refer to the plant’s historic use in herbal medicine to break down kidney stones, or the fact that it can sprout from rocky outcroppings. Perhaps the latter led to a belief in the former.
The leaves grow at the base of the plant and are smallish, up to 3cm across, round toothed, kidney-shaped and hairy. They appear mostly as a basal rosette with a few alternately growing up the lower part of the stems. The stems themselves are slightly hairy and sticky with a reddish hue.
The flowers have a symmetrical shape with 5 white petals, and are 2-3cm in diameter. Petals fan outwards from a central cup-shape, greenish in colour, which houses 10 green stamens with yellow-pollened anthers. The stigma splits into 2 white styles which look like tiny horns. Saxifrage flowers give off a pleasant sweet fragrance.
It propagates mainly by its bulbils, small pink grain-like bulbs which grow in the base of the stem, and fall off to form new plants.